I had to share this post with you from a blog that I regularly read: Slave owners, sex addicts, and anti-semites: how do you talk about flawed heroes? – The title alone should create some interest! Read it. It really resonated with me.
I’ve had similar experiences as this author. Here’s one that stands out in my memory. Back in 2003, a Hollywood movie was released on the life of Martin Luther. It played in theaters nationwide. We were pleasantly surprised to see secular Hollywood produce a quality and accurate movie on this great Reformer! (Keeping in mind that movies can never be completely accurate.) We saw the movie twice in the theater just to show our support. And this says a lot since we are frugal, and don’t go to the movies but 2-3 times a year.
I remember calling a friend to tell them about it, and encouraged them to see/support the movie as well. Their immediate response was something along the lines of: “Did the movie show how Luther hated Jews, and drank beer all the time?”. Seriously. This response was not what I was expecting. It rained on my parade! I was just excited that a historical religious movie like this was in the theaters.
The movie did not bring in Luther’s anti-semitism, and I don’t remember beer drinking (haha) being a focus either. Like the author of the article I linked to, I made a similar observation that things seemed backwards. You’d think secular Hollywood would have brought in Luther’s flaws to discredit him, yet they did not. While my Christian friend immediately pounced on it because his flaws were not incorporated into it!
Balance is needed. We don’t want to put people on pedestals, nor have delusions that historical figures or present leaders are above reproach. They aren’t. We are all flawed. As the article states:
Can’t we recognize that our heroes were flawed without focusing exclusively on the negative and caricaturing our own people?
In other words, can’t we show a little GRACE? How would you feel if whenever your name was mentioned that people immediately mentioned your worst qualities and flaws? Yikes!
This has brought me some personal conviction as well. Am I immediately or exclusively focusing on the worst qualities of others? Yes, I do this sometimes. Sometimes critique is needed, and we don’t want to swing too far the other way by ignoring problems that may need to be brought to light.
Yet, lets not be like creatures about to pounce, focusing only on the negative.
P.S. For anyone local who would like to borrow it – we have a DVD of the Luther movie.